Diepe Vallei, Hoge Bergen

Muhammad Rafi Abdurrachman (INA AFS to Belgium-Flanders 16-17)

Deep valley, high mountain. That pretty much sums up everything. I admit, everything that’s written in the National Orientation Camp Book is true. Everything. Words, images, poets, and also the graphics. My first impression about those mood curve graphic is just that I thought that that graphic is not going to affect me, and yeah once again, I was wrong. “You’ll never going to know how it feels until you experience it yourself”, the most mainstream quote for every exchange programs.

Talking about a deep, steep valley. Falling into a deep valley could be very pumping our adrenaline at first, but when you reach the bottom without any safety equipment, it could hurt you. It sounds pretty much excessive, and from what I experienced, I do fall but I don’t fall that hard, I still bring some safety equipment to protect myself, and actually hose safety equipment comes from my host family, my friends at school, and also I got some accompany from another exchangers.

The impact of this is actually very obvious, all my grades at school also join to fall, my mood becomes like a swing, not only that, the weather here is also getting worse and worse. Sometimes I feel like I need to give up a little bit, and then, I got sick. Windsick (masuk angin), headache, nausea, you can name it all.

But, of course, after I fall, I need to get back up again. I need to hike that mountain again to be on top. I started to hike that mood-mountain right after the report card distribution and hearing some motivation from my homeroom teacher. Both of them used to be exchangers, one was AFS to Peru returnee years ago, and the other one went with another organization. I’m feeling very lucky that I have them as my homeroom teacher. They also said that the graphic is true.

The hiking started off with 2 weeks of Christmas holiday. On the Christmas eve, we went to the local church here in Alken and then I just sit there while my family is having a mass. The next morning we exchange gifts and I’m so happy that I got some stuffs that I won’t ever get in Indonesia, but what I think the most important is the togetherness, I really feel like I’m home. It’s just like Idul Fitri without the prayers. I can’t feel better when I present my nieuwjaarsbrief (New Year Wishes) in front of the whole family, the first one was in Omami and Opapi’s house, I was so happy I cried then. The second one was in Oma’s house after New Year. I can’t describe how glad I am here.

Of course there are no holiday without travelling, so far I’ve been to 14 (or more) Belgian cities and 2 non-Belgian cities. Travelling here is always great, not only transportation here is relatively affordable, but also it’s reliable. Once again hiking the mountain started-off good. While writing this newsletter I think I’m still hiking, going higher and higher, I know I haven’t reached the top yet. Even though the obstacles are getting harder and harder, but I know I can get through this.

Months have passed, I just can’t believe how fast it is. I still remember the time before I got here, and now, I know I’ve said this in the first newsletter, but the change within ME is more obvious than ever! I remember that morning, waking up from a long sleep, and then I can’t pronounce the Indonesian letter “R” and I started to panic and lost control of myself! Luckily, after 5 minutes panicking about my twisted tongue and trying to get my Indonesian “R” back, I finally got it back.

Another thing is that I would want to say is how happy I am to be in one of the most wonderful highschool here. Lovely friends, teachers, and others. For an exchange student like me, experiencing X-MOS (re: Chrysostomos; a party celebrating the last 100 days of school) for the first time was very amazing. I just can’t tell how unforgettable it is. Even though there are no signs for my grade here to be better, at least I’m happy with my friends. All these things make it easier to hike to the top of my mood. There’s like nothing bad enough that makes my mood-mountain hiking more difficult.

I also want to talk about the weather here. In 1 month and several days, the beauty of spring is coming. I can’t wait to just ride my bike through the Haspengouw route here in Limburg. My friend said that it’s close, and of course beautiful, with flowers blooming. He also said to make sure that I bring tissues in case of the pollination allergy. But I bet the view will be as amazing as ever, because this will be my first spring.

I really hope that time could be a little bit slower, because I already feel very comfortable here. Even if it all ends, I still have those memories in my head, written in my journal, and also captured in my camera.